By the end of this week, Washington Street in downtown Mexico will have two new bakeries.
The two local bakers didn’t know they would one day be neighbors when they had very similar ideas earlier this year. Shana Bowen, owner of Get Baked, and Kiarah Harris, owner of The Cookie Club, decided to take their small-scale operations to the next level by opening their own bakeries in the 100 block of South Washington Street.
Washington Street now has something for every sweet tooth.
Get Baked opened in early September and focuses primarily on cupcakes, including a popular flavor known as the “Bart Simpson” consisting of a chocolate cupcake, peanut butter frosting and pieces of Butterfinger on top. Bowen hopes to expand her menu and eventually become a bakery and bistro.
The Cookie Club will hold its grand opening Friday. It focuses on cookies as well as gourmet baked goods, patisseries and cinnamon rolls.
The new businesses will bring the smell of fresh baked goods back to downtown Mexico. Parsons was the last dedicated downtown bakery, and it closed down roughly ten years ago, Harris said.
“The last bakery I remember here, it was across the street from The Man Cave,” Bowen said. “My babysitter took me there every morning for donuts holes.”
Harris began a bakery business online in 2015 called BakeMoore. She baked the orders out of a small kitchen space a family member built for her on their property just outside of Audrain County.
“I started off with cookies because I wanted something that was going to be easy to ship and I like cookies,” Harris said.
Harris was trained in the culinary arts at the Le Cordon Bleu school in Chicago. She has had an interest in the profession since she was young.
“I've always liked cooking,” Harris said. “Actually my love for being in the kitchen started with cooking because I wanted to cook for myself and my sister will cook meals together.”
Bowen, a Mexico native, began her baking business out of her home in April also specializing in cookies because they were easy to ship. She recalls working in between raising her three daughters who now help at the store.
“I had to manage my time,” Bowen said. “I don’t sacrifice my children for an order. My girls come first.”
Harris became a mother two years ago and decided around that time she wanted to take her online business to a retail property space downtown. When the two found out about the other bakery on the block, they were friendly.
“In March she messaged me and we ended up going for lunch, getting an idea of what we we’re going to be doing and stuff like that,” Harris said.
Bowen plans to move locations within two years and build a new building somewhere downtown large enough to house both a bakery and a bistro. Last weekend, Bowen started experimenting by adding chilli to the menu for the weekend.
“I want to see how it goes,” Bowen said. “We’ll see how it drives business and if we wanna add stuff like that to our menu.”
Harris plans to remain in the same location and master baking cookies and patisseries. For now, Washington Street will be Mexico’s small but sweet baker’s row. The two said the community has been extremely receptive to both businesses.
“Mexico is just down to earth,” Bowen said. “People will go out of their way to help their neighbor or person across the street.”